By Andrea Starr
When it comes to trash, I’m sure (well, I hope) by now most of us know what to do. Because I received a lot of positive feedback on my article Trashed, which encouraged students living in the dorms to take responsibility for their own messes, I want to follow up with a very closely related topic. So, what about recycling? There are signs around campus, friendly reminders as to what is and isn’t recyclable, but are we taking this information to heart? Do we take the time to throw our pop bottles, paper, and cardboard boxes into the respective recycling containers? Or do we throw everything in the trash because it’s simply more convenient?
I sit in on the Sustainable Finlandia committee meetings as a voice for students on campus, and currently recycling is high on our radar. Curt Hahka, the Director of Plant & Facilities at Finlandia, and his maintenance staff oversee recycling campus-wide. Hahka recently sat in on one of the SusFin meetings to voice some of his biggest concerns when it comes to recycling. He said that the recycling would work much better if students could just change a few bad habits (i.e. start breaking down boxes and be mindful of how and what we throw into recycling containers).
Break down your cardboard boxes. Finlandia pays for what it hauls away to recycle and it’s important that we not only recycle our cardboard boxes, but that we also break down those boxes. If we recycle full-sized boxes, they take up more room in the container, and because Finlandia pays per pull (every time the container is hauled away to the recycling facility), we’re recycling less and paying the same amount. It’s not cost effective for our university, and in the future, the heightened amount of money needed for these services could result in more fees for students. Ultimately it’s up to us, the users, to effectively recycle.
Don’t bring your garbage from home. Why is this even an issue? Believe it or not, the maintenance staff have complained of people bringing their garbage from off-campus homes and disposing of it in the on-campus garbage facilities. This is more or less stealing from the university. Garbage services cost money, and by bringing trash onto campus with the expectation that Finlandia will and should dispose of it, people are shrugging their own responsibilities by not paying for their own trash disposal. Understand that if you create waste, it is your responsibility and no one else’s, to not only dispose of that waste, but to also pay for any services required to do so.
Make sure your plastic containers are empty. If you’re already on top of recycling, good for you! However, let’s take it one step farther. Before you toss your pop bottle into a recycling bin, make sure it’s empty. Many of Finlandia’s recycling containers are of mixed content, meaning paper is mixed with plastic, and so on. If the liquid from your returnable bottle seeps out into the paper, everything in that container is now more or less ruined for recycling which regrettably creates more garbage. So be aware of what you’re tossing, even if you are making an attempt to recycle.
The lounges have been looking better, and trash is less of an issue campus-wide. Let’s tackle recycling next, and make sure we take responsibility for our own waste. If you are interested in what the Sustainable Finlandia committee is up to, feel free to contact me for more information. We’re always looking for more student involvement, because after all this is our university and who better to make it a better place than the students who pay to attend here?
For more information on recycling or how to get involved with the SusFin committee, email Andrea Starr.